Marriott CEO sees tough times ahead for hospitality sector

Arne Sorenson Marriott Hotels CEO

The corona virus crisis will hit the hospitality sector harder than 9/11 and the great economic recession combined, Marriott International Arne Sorenson has said.

“What we’re seeing is dramatically worse than what we saw in those two prior crises,” Sorenson told CNBC. In those two instances, the worst quarterly declines in global revenue that Marriott experienced was around 25%, Sorenson said.

“We’re now seeing revenue down 75% plus, probably I suspect nearing a 90% decline in the United States. And obviously at those levels there just isn’t any business in hotels,” said Sorenson, who suspended his salary for the year.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Marriott had recently furloughed around two-thirds of its 4,000 corporate employees.

Sorenson said the company took a “furlough approach,” instead of terminating employees, while ensuring the impacted workers are still “eligible for the unemployment insurance and other tools that are out there.”

The U.S. tourism industry has asked for a $150 billion relief to offset a drastic decline in travel due to the coronavirus. Sorenson said the money would be used to support workers and the operators and owners of the hotel buildings.